War Poetry Wilfred Owen

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War Poetry

I have studied two poems, 'Dulce et decorum est' and 'The Sentry' both by the poet Wilfred Owen. The first one I will study is 'Dulce et Decorum est'.

The first thing Owen does is to give us a vivid description of what is happening, he tells us that he and his men are marching away from the trenches, and the way Owen describes his men gives us a clear picture of what they have been through. "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, knock-kneed, coughing like hags" They had been in the trenches, terrible places, with bullets and shells flying constantly overhead, explosions all around, the constant fear of death. These men were leaving the hell of the front, they were going to rest. But they still have a long way to go before they are safe, they are still within the range of artillery. Despite of this, they march on "towards their distant rest", they are walking in deep mud, which covered most of the battlefield, and for this reason, there are some of the men have no boots on, but still they "limp on, blood shod". They are described as being "drunk with fatigue", they are exhausted, but still, they march on.

Then suddenly, the call "Gas! Gas! Quick boys!", a gas shell had dropped nearby. Gas was the most brutal of weapons used in the war, it burned the skin, the eyes, and when breathed in, it burnt the lungs, which the body then filled with water, bringing on a slow agonising death for the unfortunate victim. The soldiers' reaction to this attack is described as "an ecstasy of fumbling", which is a great way of describing what is happening, the men are trying desperately to get out their gas masks before they are engulfed by the cloud.
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